Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Thoughts On the Ground Zero Mosque (Part 2)

When this issue was first broached I was unsure what to think about it. I could see both sides of the issue pretty well but I couldn't come up with an opinion that would satisfy all parties involved. But then I read a letter to the editor in the Hartford Courant, and I can't remember who it is by so I can't cite it but I thought I would give credit where it is due.

Although it is true that a mosque has stayed in that spot for years, it has now become a problem that the people behind it want to expand it massively into a community center. Now, some of it's defenders say that the goal behind doing this is to promote cross-cultural and cross-religious understanding. Which of course is a noble goal which all of us can get behind.

But here is the reasoning that the letter used: On one side are those Muslims and their allies who feel like the community center should be built. But on the other side are families of the victims of 9/11 who feel uncomfortable with that decision. The reality is that those people's losses are real and their feelings are real too. Calling them "bigots" and "Islamophobes" is that not the way that you deal with those feelings, as I believe Matt touched upon.

So if the goal of this endeavor is to create better understanding and tolerance, then why should we expect the victims of terror to be the ones to "man up"? It really is not very much to ask that the community center be built somewhere else, if the alternative is forcing the families of terror victims to accept something towards which they really are not very comfortable.

Although some on the HP try to make it so, this issue is not about religious freedom. It's about mutual respect. It always has been, I thought. And mutual respect should not have to start with the victims of violence until they are ready. And yes, if it were any other group in that situation I would feel the same way.

I know this is still a complicated issue and I am not going to dig in on this view. But this is the way I currently feel about it.


  1. Lost in all of the pseudo-patriotic posturing and puffing by Gingrich, Palin et al., is the fact that it is against Federal Law for the City or State of New York to attempt to prevent the use of the buildings in question for religious (including Islamic) purposes absent a compelling government interest in preventing that use. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), (U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et seq.), section 2(a)(1) states that:

    "No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly, or institution--
    (A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
    (B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest."

    In other words, if the City of New York tried to oppose the use of the building in question as a mosque or other place of religious assembly, it would have to demonstrate a compelling interest in why it should be able to do so. And even it it can show a compelling interest, it must also show that preventing the use is the least restrictive way of furthering that interest. In terms of constitutional law, that is the highest possible hurdle to placing a restriction on the practice of religious and is practically impossible to do.

    It is ironic that RLUIPA was pushed through largely by Christian groups to prevent local governments from placing zoning restrictions on churches. Of course, they only meant it to apply to Christian churches, not those others.

  2. Anonymous,

    you are not addressing Zach's point.

    You are arguing that under federal law they have every right to build the thing.

    Zach is not disputing that.

    What he is arguing is that while the right is there, the wisdom is not.

  3. HuffPo, Salon and DKos lunatics don't want to hear laws, or argument or dissent. If they could plant a mosque IN the 911 site they would. And they would call anyone who so much as surfaced a discussion on the issue as a racist Zionist capitalist islamophobic globalist gay hating monopoly man top hat wearing plutocrat Republican baby eater.

    I say build a Mosque wherever you want. Don't scream and pout when people start spray painting on it either.